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The Core Concepts of Effective Reputation Management

01/10/2014 Adrienne N. Hester

Tree at Night"Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing." Abraham Lincoln.

Do you have the good reputation that you deserve? Bad publicity has always been a challenge, even to the good guys. In these days of social media that can instantly harm you there is a need for a sophisticated response strategy. Make sure people are aware of your character, and not looking at someone else's shadow.

Reputation management can have many forms, and can require several different roles. In a large organization, the role would be filled by a full-time strategic communication advisor; but even then, the key employee may need consultation depending on the situation.

Perhaps the defining characteristic of effective reputation management is good judgment. Maintaining a good reputation involves planning your organizational structure so that you have a smooth flow of information as well as confronting specific issues as they appear in the business environment and in the media.

Any confusion caused by incorrect reporting must be addressed with authority in a timely manner. Any roadblocks to communication within your organization must be located and eliminated.

Whether it is for a hospital board, an African nation, the U.S. Department of Defense, a corporate public relations department, or a small business operating a marketing strategy, a reputation management strategist coordinates clarifying your position. This important advisor will also assist in the formation and adjustment of policy.

The higher your authority, and the broader the scope of your endeavors, the more important it is that you are in position to be able to manage the public perception of your efforts. An effective reputation management strategy is much more than "spin." The creation and implementation of good policy needs dedicated attention and support in the unpredictable climate of popular opinion.

The Possible Roles involved in reputation advisement:

  • As an educator, the advisor communicates with employees and associates to make them better conduits for a policy that has been decided upon. In order to avoid inconsistency of services or product, all people involved in implementing your service should be schooled in the philosophy of your business or social mission. This involves coordination with human resources and training of department heads as well as direct presentation to large groups.
  • As a publicist, the advisor has editing, writing and speaking skills to distribute information through appropriate networks, whether through existing corporate newsletters and email systems, or media outlets. The publicist is familiar with social media and monitors interaction on strategic sites. The publicist can produce content, as well as inform others on proper responses to online forums. The publicist has a close relationship with any formal spokesperson or media relations department for a large organization, acting as a liaison between management, media, and policy formation.
  • As an analyst, the advisor suggests what information should be given to a particular group, be it employees, associates, or volunteers. The analyst assists in the timing and proper media for press releases. The analyst provides support and assembles research opportunities when adjustment of policy is necessary.
  • As a researcher, the advisor is aware of trends in the social fabric regarding your endeavors. The researcher is aware of meaningful published work, and, if necessary, attends relevant summits and discussions by experts in the field. The researcher evaluates new ideas and innovations, making recommendations to you for discussion and review of policy.
  • As a coordinator, the advisor makes certain that internal and external policy is consistent with your goals, and develops measuring techniques to monitor progress in accurately portraying your efforts to the public. The coordinator will be aware of budget compliance, and will be able to provide recommendations for necessary adjustments, whether in policy or implementation of existing policy.

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